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Re: translation Circus

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2008 01:13:55 +0100
To: "gareth edison" <gareth.edison@googlemail.com>, w3c-translators@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.t4buxhupwxe0ny@widsith.local>

On Tue, 01 Jan 2008 15:19:00 +0100, gareth edison  
<gareth.edison@googlemail.com> wrote:

> I would just like to reply on some of the remarks made by Charles
>> > I fail to grasp the importancy of translating documents into languages
>> > like Turmen, Uzbek, Azerbajan, Kazakh, Belarussian, Ukrainian, >  
>> Estonian,  Latvian, Tatar, Georgian or even Armenian.
>> Well, if you happen to speak such a language, which quite a lot of  
>> people
>> do, then it is helpful to find documents in that language.*

> In this case I m sure it will not bother you if I propose to translate  
> some of the documents into the following Irish dialects: Caighdeán
> Oifigiúil, Gaeilge Bhleá Cliath and Caighdeán Oifigiúil as well as
> Welsh Cymraeg ( I am Welsh ) and maybe when Im finnished I may
> dabble in the Scottish Gàidhlig

No, it doesn't bother me in the least. Since Irish has status as an  
official language of a real country, and since both it and Cymraeg are  
taught in schools, it would be great to have more resources available in  
those languages. I am sorry that Opera does not have a current translation  
into them (lack of resources, and no known volunteers)...

> This brings me once again to the whole point of my first post, and I  
> repeat:
> Who is going to proof read all these translations in able to uphold the  
> high standards required for an online translation of a W3C document ?
> Who is going to proof read Turmen, Uzbek, Azerbajan, Kazakh, Tatar and
> the likes ?

And my response was in two parts. The first point is that there is no  
"high standard required" - even the original documents are sometimes badly  
written (I say that as a someone who has been personally responsible for  
the exact wording of text in some sections of W3C recommendations that  
have managed to cause confusion running for *years*). The more people who  
look at a document the better.

The second point was, as Ivan also suggested, that people who are  
interested in the documents can do this - and from time to time already do.

> *> Wouldnt it be much wiser to allow ONLY *native speakers* to translate
>> > documents for W3C instead of people producing translations
>> > which they cant read themselves?
>> Not really, in my opinion. [...]
> Firstly it seems that W3C made similar proposals and I quote:
> "I think we should inquire of translators whether they are native  
> speakers, and even prefer them to be in-country, and only go with
> people who aren't when there are unusual circumstances."

This is a suggestion from an individual, who is not the person responsible  
for Translations. It is an interesting suggestion, but I think it is  
wrong, which is why I said so.

> On this note it wont harm if I ask my next door neighbour to translate a  
> W3C document into Kalaallisut. He is a fisherman but I am sure he will
> make his way thought he translation  ;-)

If he is indeed willing to volunteer his time to do so then I doubt it  
does any harm and may even help some other people, although if he has to  
learn the language first it is likely to take some time. But even  
fishermen have to have some kind of pastime, and learning languages is  
more or less never a bad thing. (Or does he happen to speak Kalaallisut  

Seriously, I am a native english speaker, although I am based between two  
countries where english is not an official language. I have written  
articles, documents, and so on in both french and spanish (as the original  
language of composition), and some of these, and translations by me, are  
on the W3C website. I am not the greatest translator, but I am not  
terrible either, and if I happen to have the time then I can make a  
translation that is useful enough for people to either read or criticise  
and help improve.

For a spanish speaker who reads english fluently, my translations are not  
that good. But for spanish speakers who do not, I have seven years of  
experience explaining W3C specifications (for the first half in pretty  
poor-quality spanish) and a track record of seeing the explanations lead  
to a better understanding than they had achieved through their efforts at  
trying to understand the original.

This applies also (again, in my personal practical experience over the  
last seven years) to French and Italian, although I have spent less time  
working in those two languages on W3C-related stuff.

In all three example languages there are large active communities where it  
is easy enough to see how this works by participating for a while. But  
there is also a community that was set up at my instigation who is working  
in finnish and its dialects on accessibility. Finnish is, in global terms,  
a tiny language spoken mostly by people who are also considered  
universally functionally literate in english. And yet initial reports  
(this was seven and a half years ago, and I haven't followed up) were that  
this turned out to be more useful than the people involved in it had  

The example you give is a little facetious, but one of the ways that a  
group of people can better understand a document is by translating it and  
working with the translations as well as the original.

As chair of a W3C workng group, against W3C preferred policy, I actively  
seek translations of working drafts (and in some cases participate in  
producing them) because it helps get feedback from a community who could  
not otherwise participate meaningfully in the development of the  
specification, and because it helps find parts of the draft that are not  
as clear as we would like. Generally the translations of drafts are  
somewhat slap-dash (as are the some of the drafts themselves) but my  
experience is that even when these translations are done in a rush by  
someone only moderately competent working over a machine translation it  
still proves useful to pretty much all concerned.


> I dont have a degree in linguistics nor do I speak Welsh.

Nor do I. I do have a reasonably large amount of experience working with  
multilingual and with non-english-speaking communities, and some with  
non-english-speaking communities based in english-speaking countries. For  
example, although I speak none of the north-eastern Arnhem Land  
Yolngu-matha group of languages, and many of the 10,000 speakers of them  
(there are about 30 languages in the group, and most speakers can speak  
about half-a-dozen if they speak any) speak little english,

> It was also never my intent
> to offend anyone at anytime. So I apologize if I did offend anyone.

It doesn't seem that anyone took offence, which is a good sign that this  
list does indeed cherish the freedom to speak up. You should be aware that  
language is a touchy subject for many people (a little like religion), so  
it would probably pay to check basic statements carefully.

I also don't intend to offend you (or anyone else) and hope that my  
comments are taken as an attempt at positive contribution in good faith...



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com
Received on Thursday, 3 January 2008 00:13:42 UTC

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